Monday, July 23, 2012

The Batman

Eagerly anticipated big-budget movies rarely live up to their hype, but the Dark Knight Rises is one of the exceptions. The movie's plot, action sequences and quick witted dialogue all work together to make a near three hour thrill trip seem a lot shorter than it is. I admit: I was worried about how this was going to turn out. Fairly or unfairly, the movie was going to be judged a success or a failure based upon whether it lived up to the high standard set by 2008’s The Dark Knight. Under that kind of pressure to deliver, directors can sometimes overindulge in implausible narrative twists and redundant action scenes. And while the action in DKR is certainly unrelenting, it doesn't seem excessive.

Movie fight scenes are typically boring, predictable, and unauthentic. But the DKR fist fights between Bane and Batman are one of the best parts of the film. In truth, this is probably due to the good job Christopher Nolan has done in developing the characters of both men: the clashes between the two seem momentous because you actually care about them. Apart from that, though, the fight scenes are just visually pleasing, especially at the end of the movie when Bane is desperately trying to fight his way back from a big loss.

I was dreading Anne Hathaway playing Catwoman, but she does an outstanding job playing a small time thief trying to erase her past. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, on the other hand, plays a cop whose plot line needlessly interrupts the overall trajectory of the film. Gordon-Levitt is not a bad actor, but the subplot he is placed in, with its slow dialogue and uneventful happenings, does not suit him or the movie overall.

Nolan is a master at filming in and around NYC. The city at night is beautiful. The filming at Wall Street and on the bridges crossing the Hudson leaves no doubt that Gotham is New York. Nolan has also learned that battered-up lories charging through city streets is, for some unexplained reason, incredibly appealing.

In the last installment of Batman, Nolan’s script touches on a few hot button current events, like torture and wiretapping. The same goes for DKR. In reference to the debate being had over income inequality, Anne Hathaway’s character asks Bruce Wayne, how he though the rich “could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” Whenever Bane breaks into the stock exchange, one of the traders tells him that there is no money for him to steal. Bane replies by asking, “Then what are you people doing here?” The nuclear core that is being transported around the city even has something to do with politics: the fusion reactor was supposed to be used to generate unlimited “clean energy.”

So, is DKR better than the original? In my opinion, yes.